I grew up playing classic 3D platformers on my Nintendo 64 and beyond (Sega Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360). Games like Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong 64, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue and many, many more.
Today, I continue playing 3D platformers on my Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 and 5 — Super Mario Odyssey, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Astro’s Playroom, Kirby and the Forgotten Land and I’m always looking for more of these experiences (both new and old). I even recently went “back in time” with the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (a complete remastered compilation of the first three Crash Bandicoot games) on PlayStation 5.
Kao the Kangaroo
Kao the Kangaroo (pronounced K-O or Kay-Oh, not Ca-oh or Cow — which is how I say it in my head every time) released on consoles and PC last Friday, May 27, 2022. This isn’t the first Kao the Kangaroo title. Back in the year 2000, the original game was released on Sega Dreamcast and Game Boy Advance. It was followed up by a couple of sequels, but this is a brand new game for modern platforms (PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox and PlayStation).
While I was expecting something closer to those current and next gen 3D platform experiences, Kao the Kangaroo feels more like the original 3D platformers I grew up on. In fact, it feels a lot like playing Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. While these Crash Bandicoot remastered editions look fresh and new, they still play and feel like the original games.
I know that Kao the Kangaroo is not a remaster of the original Dreamcast game. It’s a brand new experience, and while it does feel like an older game, it also features some cool new and classic 3D platformer mechanics.
Kao himself is a fighter. He’s a boxing kangaroo with magical boxing gloves, which once belonged to his father. That sounds cool, but the combat itself is actually quite simple. Kao the Kangaroo features a basic 1-2-3 combo attack with a special slow motion punch (but I’ll get into that in a bit). Most of my fights were spent mashing buttons to defeat enemies.
Every new enemy type comes with an introduction video, showing off their unique skills and characteristics. The problem is that they mostly don’t even matter. Most enemies can be easily defeated with one or two simple combo attacks.
Boss fights can get a bit more complicated. While normal combat is simple and easy, bosses have way more HP (hit points) and take longer to defeat. Some of the bosses also have specific movesets. Boss fights are more like puzzles, where you have to find the right opening for strategic attacks.
Now, for my favorite part of Kao the Kangaroo — the Super Mega Slow Motion Special Punch. I love everything about this special move, I just wish there was more to it or even ways to level it up. The Special Super Mega Punch is so much fun that I actually captured some gameplay clips to create this SUPER MEGA PUNCH video below:
Classic 3D Platforming
The world is laid out like many 3D platformers that came before. There are a few “main lobby” worlds. Each features a collection of levels within which can be unlocked using runes. There are also secrets to find throughout these main worlds. The game could definitely benefit from adding a map to help track which levels are left to explore.
Levels consist of classic collect-a-thons (like a LEGO game), where you search for coins, diamonds, runes, the letters K-A-O and more. Most levels took me around half an hour to complete, mainly due to searching for every object and secret.
The game also features many classic 3D platforming mechanics. Something I’ve always found clever in Crash Bandicoot, and later in the Uncharted games (both from Naughty Dog), were those levels where you’re being chased while running towards the screen. For some reason, these chases put me into panic mode even more than a side-scrolling chase sequence. I guess it’s since you don’t see what’s in front of you until the last second.
The two videos below showcase two sliding techniques used in these games as well. The first is a simple slide down a skinny pipe and collect some coins. The second is more of a wide slide, or waterfall, where you must control Kao, moving him side to side, to collect the objects and coins.
The developer has described Kao the Kangaroo as “A Love Letter to the Golden Age of 3D Platformers,” and I believe that to be an accurate description of this game. While it doesn’t do much to add to the genre, it is heavily influenced by the games that came before it.
Still, after all of the great new, innovative 3D platformers we’ve seen lately I expected a bit more out of this one. Kao the Kangaroo is a good game for someone who wants those classic early 2000’s 3D platformer feels, with upgraded visuals. I did enjoy playing this game, and if you’re a fan of those classic games you may have fun with it too.
Kao the Kangaroo is out now on PC and consoles (PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch).
*myVGBC.com was provided a review code for Kao the Kangaroo by the publisher.